Event Date: 10 February 2016
Birkbeck, University of London
43 Gordon Square
London, WC1H 0PD
Paul Hirst Memorial Lecture
Professor Anne Phillips (LSE) – ‘Are we not both human beings?’
In ‘On Humanity in Dark Times’, Hannah Arendt questions the limitations of a humanism that pretends to a commonality while evading the reality of a ‘world become inhuman’. I take this as a starting point for an exploration of the notion of the human. Though the assertion of our common humanity remains a powerful ethical and political ideal, it too often involves either a substantive account of what it is to be human that then becomes the basis for gradations, or else a stripped down contentless account that denies important differences. We need to think of the human, rather, as an enactment of and commitment to equality.
Anne Phillips is Graham Wallas Professor of Political Science and Professor of Political and Gender Theory at the London School of Economics. Her work has been influential in questioning liberal positions in contemporary political thought, and provides important insights into feminist theory and politics, democracy, equality, multiculturalism, and difference. She is the author of Engendering Democracy (Polity, 1991), The Politics of Presence (Clarendon Press, 1995), Which Equalities Matter (Polity, 1999), Multiculturalism without Culture (Princeton University Press, 2007), and Our Bodies, Whose Property? (Princeton University Press). Her latest book is The Politics of the Human (Cambridge University Press, 2015).
Introductions by Dr Jason Edwards (Birkbeck):